Brown Bag Lunch

From 1st grade through 8th grade I brought a brown bag lunch nearly every day. The only time I would even think about getting hot lunch was when they served SpaghettiOs and for about the first week that they added a salad bar in my middle school (the novelty of eating lettuce wore off pretty quickly there). I used a lunch box for the first few weeks of school in 1st grade but after a couple of trips to the “lost and found” my mother quickly switched to brown bags. I didn’t mind this too much because my need to be responsible went way down and my lunch box had already gotten quite smelly. However, there were two points of contention

1. My mom was always trying to get me to re-use the brown bags (always the environmentalist) which re-introduce the need to be responsible
2. Sometimes we would run out of the small bags and my mom would make me carry one of the larger ones that you used to get at the grocery store before reusable bags were trendy. I don’t think I need to explain how this made me an easy target. A giant grocery bag? Really?

But for the most part, bringing a lunch to school was pretty painless. I was perfectly content to eat the same thing everyday:

– Peanut butter and jelly on white bread
– Pretzel rods, baby carrots of if I was lucky, chips
– Some sort of fruit
– A dessert (usually homemade)

All I needed was 10 cents for my milk and I was good to go.

As an adult, I am not quite as good at making my lunch. Not only is this a detriment to my wallet, but to my waist line as well. Living and working in New York City, it isn’t a big deal to drop more than $10 on lunch. And it is never as healthy as brown bagging it, and let’s be honest, it isn’t as good. In an effort to save money, eat healthier and feel better about myself, I have been trying to bring a lunch to work at least 3 times a week. While I have done away with the brown bag – it is great to get back to this tradition from my youth.

Today’s lunch featured: Tuscan Tuna and Beans from Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking (a Christmas present from my MIL – mother-in-law for those of you not up on post wedding acronyms)

Serves 4.

Cooking Method: None
Prep Time: 15 minutes

Three 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Three 6-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained well and broken into rough chunks
2/3 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup olive oil (I accidentally forgot this and it tasted fine!)

Combine the beans, tuna, onion, and parsley in a serving bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, and salt; drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly. Pour the dressing over the beans and tuna; toss to combine.

I decided to make tuna melts using sandwich thins and sliced monterey jack cheese. I put it the toaster oven for approximately 8 minutes and was good to go. This is definitely not necessary but does increase the likelihood of point #3 below.

Today’s lunch was a good one for so many reasons:

1. It was yummy
2. It was relatively healthy
3. It made everyone else in the office jealous
4. I was able to use my awesome 3 compartment Tupperware!


Be on the lookout for more Brown Bag Lunch ideas! And feel free to leave a comment that includes your favorite workday lunch.